The 2016-2017 television season for the Fox Network will not include American Idol for the first time in 15 years. While losing what was once the most dominant television show in America for a decade may seem like a huge loss for the network, it may have been a blessing in disguise because it opens up a lot of holes on the Fox schedule. Those holes have given the network an opportunity to reinvent itself as the most diverse, edgy, and interesting network on television.
In fact, Fox is beginning to feel much less like a broadcast network and much more like a content provider for Hulu, which is where many of us end up watching Fox programming anyway. While Last Man on Earth may have felt like an outlier on the network two seasons ago, it’s beginning to feel like the kind of original programming the network seeks out, because though the series gets relatively low ratings for a network series, it’s profitable thanks to its distribution deal with Hulu.
That may be the case for most of Fox’s new series next year, where — based on the trailers presented during their upfronts — there are few clunkers among them, all the more surprising when you contrast their more streaming-friendly offerings with ABC, CBS and NBC.
Here, ranked from best to worst, is what Fox is putting out next year.
1. The Mick — Kaitlen Olson is basically playing Dee Reynolds in a sitcom where she is left to be the guardian for her wealthy sister’s children after the sister goes to prison. It’s practically an It’s Always Sunny spin-off.
2. Making History — A Bill and Ted’s-like sitcom sounds like a lousy idea, except when it comes from Chris Lloyd and Phil Miller (21 Jump Street, Last Man on Earth) and stars Adam Pally and a surprisingly funny Leighton Meester making a mockery of colonial America.
3. Son of Zorn — Jason Sudeikis’ voicing a He-Man-like animated character where he tries to win back his live-action wife (Cheryl Hines) sounds absolutely absurd, which is why it may be so fantastically funny. You won’t find anything like this on the other networks.
4. Pitch — This series follows the first female pitcher to play in the majors, and while it’s hard to imagine there’s an entire series worth of storyline here, we might have thought the same about Friday Night Lights after its phenomenal pilot episode, too.
5. Lethal Weapon — A television remake of the Mel Gibson classic sounds like a terrible idea, until you see Clayne Crawford play a version of Martin Riggs (opposite Damon Wayans) that actually seems to work.
6. Shots Fired — An “event” series from Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) starring Sanaa Lathan, Helen Hunt and Richard Dreyfus, which examines the dangerous aftermath of racially charged shootings in a small Southern town. The twist here is that it’s a black cop who shoots a white man, but the fall-out is all too terrifying and familiar.
7. 24: Legacy — I wasn’t much of a fan of the original 24, and I’m not sure I’d devote any time to the reboot, but I like what they’ve done with the trailer, and the cast is great: Corey Hawkins, Miranda Otto, Jimmy Smits, and Dan Bucatinsky.
8. Star — I have little interest in this musical drama, but it has a solid supporting cast (Queen Latifah, Lenny Kravitz, Benjamin Braddock) and should appeal to the same folks who love Empire
9. Exorcist — I may be in the minority, but I am not sold on The Exorcist television remake, but I am happy that Geena Davis and Alan Ruck continue to get work.
10. Prison Break — I never watched the original series. The trailer doesn’t do anything to suggest I should start now.
11. APB — I love Justin Kirk, but APB — about a wealthy man privatizing the police force in a Chicago district — looks like the only drama on Fox that might fit on different network. That’s not a compliment.